Friday, 29 July 2016
Published: May 3rd, 2016
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Hello everyone! It's Shani here today, I apologise for not posting on here for quite some time, we have all been very busy with volunteering and some of us have been on courses for the last two weeks. That being said I have managed to read quite a fair amount and I really wanted to share with you guys my new favourite book. I know, you're probably thinking: 'What? How can Shani have chosen her favourite book, she has so many!' And yes my dears, I do. However I have found my favourite book of the year (so far!) and this book has also been added to my top ten favourite books of all time. So if you hadn't guessed from the title, the book I'm reviewing today is A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah. J Maas, the sequel in the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy.
Okay, so wow. This novel was incredible! I'm first going to give a brief summary of the plot. Feyre Archeron has just been transformed into a High Fae after defeating Amarantha, the evil fae who claimed herself High Lady of Prythian, and is struggling to control her new found powers given to her by the other courts, and is suffering from PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety disorder and claustrophobia. Tamlin, Feyre's betrothed at the start of the novel, is completely ignoring the fact that Feyre is having nightmares and is increasingly becoming sick due to his overprotective nature towards her and her own mental state. This part of the novel was especially difficult for me to read, Maas portrays a subtly abusive relationship very well, Tamlin doesn't outright attack Feyre at the beginning, it takes about one hundred pages for a physical attack to actually commence - and even then he doesn't end up physically hurting her, because Feyre uses a windshield to protect herself against his attack - however the subtly that Maas uses is very affective, and shows the reader how subtle abuse can be when you're in a relationship. What I really love about ACOMAF is how Tamlin and Rhysand's roles become reversed. Tamlin becomes the antagonist and Rhysand becomes the protagonist, it's so clever in the way Maas switches their roles and I've never read a book where this has been done before. Normally a protagonist remains a protagonist, and an anatagonist or 'anti-hero' remains one as well. I think this is another reason why I enjoyed this novel so much, it really makes the reader choose a side - Which in this case is Rhysand - and makes the reader understand how Tamlin mistreated Feyre. Rhysand rescuses Feyre after Tamlin locks her up inside their home, refusing to let her out and Feyre has a panic attack because of this. Rhys senses her fear and sadness from their bond, which if you've read A Court of Thorns and Roses know they formed in Feyre's desperation, and he goes to rescue her. Rhysand then invites Feyre to join the Night Court (AKA Mine and Lydia's home, we are obsessed with the Night Court), and she agrees.
The novel basically revolves around Feyre learning how to control her powers, how to put on a mask at the Night Court, and how she is Rhysand's mate. I adored Rhys and Feyre's character development in this novel, they both come so far from the people that they were in A Court of Thorns and Roses. Feyre learns that she only fell in love with Tamlin because he was the first person that was ever truly kind to her, and that his love for her is a poison rather than a balm. Rhys' love for Feyre is very clear during the novel and it made me want to cry the entire time, (I was sobbing uncontrollably at Chapter 54, oh my goodness!). The novel ends with Feyre and Rhysand going to get the Cauldron back, but being ambushed by the King, Tamlin and Lucien. Tamlin requests that Feyre return to him, and after Azriel and Cassian become gravely injured - they are both apart of Rhys' inner circle - she agrees to go with Tamlin. However, oh the however, Feyre and Rhysand snuck out the night before the battle and had Feyre appointed as High Lady of the Night Court, alongside Rhys who is High Lord of the Night Court. I screamed so much at this part, oh my goodness. The last line of the novel is haunting, it ends with Feyre walking back into the Spring Court, her old home: 'And so Tamlin unwittingly led the High Lady of the Night Court into the heart of his territory.' OH MY GOD. Basically, Feyre has gone into Tamlin's home to mess stuff up - Big time.
Honestly, words cannot describe how much I love this novel. I adored the new characters that Maas introduced us to such as Mor, Cassian, Azriel, Amren and getting to see Nesta and Elain again, Feyre's human sisters, was wonderful! Rhys is by far my favourite character, he has endured a lot of tragedy and heartbreak as a character: 'Everything I love has a tendency to be taken from me.' I think that's one of the main things I admire about his characterisation, the amount of pain he has been through but despite that he can still smile, he can still laugh and be happy. It's a very human quality.
I thought that this novel had the perfect balance of poetic description and realistic writing. I'm a sucker for poetic writing, I love it and it's one of the main styles I like to use. However, using too much poetic and romanticised language can make the plot of the novel very dry and boring, Maas has a perfect balance, she keeps the action going but she manages to incorporate poetic language which stirs your heart. I hope to succeeded this in my own writing.
I couldn't fault a single thing wrong with this novel, it was just perfect. It was much better then it's prequel A Court of Thorns and Roses, perhaps because it was longer and had more time to develop the plot, or perhaps because Tamlin gets completely disregarded in this novel and we all end up loving Rhysand. Either way, I am so excited for the last novel to come out next year and Maas has also announced that there will be another trilogy set in the ACOTAR's world alongside two novella's written during A Court of Mist and Fury. I'm waiting in anticipation for all of these to be released.
Thursday, 28 July 2016
Author: Lucy Sutcliffe
Published: June 2016
Hey guys, its Lydia here!!
Sorry it's been quite a while since I last posted on the blog, I've been so busy lately, with things going on at school and then I was volunteering for a few days, anyway since then I've finish reading Girl Heart Girl and I'm still reading Testament of Youth along with Extraordinary Means.
This book I found was rather similar to the last book I read, Finding Audrey, as its about a young girl/woman finding herself and discovering new things, with Finding Audrey it was overcoming her anxiety, with Girl Heart Girl it was a girl finding herself through her sexuality.
Like my other reviews I'm going to split up the negative and positive views of the novel.
Starting with the positives. Overall it was an enjoyable read, as I think there aren't enough books and novels about lesbian relationships, this one is the first one I've come across in the YA section of my local book shop. The progressiveness of the story was brilliant, Sutcliffe started the story from when she was young, telling the reader how from a little girl Lucy (the narrator) felt that she was different, introduced and foreshadowed what was later to come very nicely.
The whole book was written in the style of a memoir, which was intriguing as it memories from the author Lucy Sutcliffe herself.
The progress of her finding Kaelyn (Lucy's girlfriend) was very sweet and lifelike, as some romance themed YA novels aren't realistic, its almost as if they find their true love or soul mate straight away. Whereas Sutcliffe's book shows how she struggled with relationships and love, because she was unsure about her sexuality, then when she's around seventeen she realises she's a lesbian. It was lovely how Kaelyn and Lucy posted all their videos they made together on Youtube, again it makes the novels more realistic and modern.
The book left a good feel after finishing, it was heartfelt, personal and real.
This novel I would say is mainly aimed at thirteen to fourteen year olds and upwards, as the language is quite simplistic and easy to read. Its quite funny really because I keep on picking up books that are too young for me, and half way through I realise that I kind need something more adulty. It doesn't matter too much, but I think publishers should really have the age group of the book on the back with the synopsis.
Now, what I didn't like was that none of the characters where described, not even Lucy or Kaelyn themselves! This made it really difficult to picture what they all looked like, this would be something crucial to include in a story, it is all linked to how reader imagines the world that characters live in.
There wasn't enough confrontation with how her friends and family felt about her new profound sexuality, even though its the 21st century there are millions of people who have homophobic views, however it is a memoir so Sutcliffe may not have been faced with any homophobic confrontation that lead to violence or abuse. Again this is from the perspective of a older viewer, so this might have been inappropriate for the age group of the book if it was included. I would have liked to see more aspects of the book where Lucy and Kaelyn were alone, where they built the foundation of their relationship, this is the lovey-dovy romance reader coming through in my reviews, but yes it would have been interesting to see how a relationship, which started from emails and social media developing into a face to face connection.
That's it from me now.
Hope you enjoyed this review, please leave some comments or email us on any suggestions on some books to read. We want to hear your opinions!
P.S Shani has a book tube channel. So go follow Shanireads to find out more of what she's been reading!
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Friday, 15 July 2016
In English Literature we are studying Regeneration by Pat Barker, which Shani has already done a book review on. Its a very interesting and powerful book, and I've been doing loads of research on the First World War, and I was so enraged and fuelled with sadness and anger that a wrote a poem.
I'm pretty sure that the title of the poem has been already taken by a famous poet, but I simply couldn't think of any other title.
We will remember them on this day,
From in our minds it will never stray.
A few minutes silence is not enough,
For those who gave up their lives for us.
Can you imagine what they carried?
The death, the blood, the strain,
and the tricks it played on their brain.
The men who lived did not feel lucky,
Only the gnaw that their friends won't rise.
Young men slaughtered but at what cost?
Lead by blind leaders, into an old mans war.
In 1918 it had ended, four years and one million dead.
Its bound to be a short war they all said.
Thursday, 14 July 2016
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
The only other thing I found that I didn't like, was that the novel was overly prolonged. I don't think it needed to be that long. It took a while for me as a reader to get to the core of the story. Again as a writer and a student who studies English Literature, Kinsella could have done this so the reader feels more introduced to the characters and gets to see their personality more.
Hope you enjoyed this review, please go check out the other reviews we have up by Shani and Heather.
Please tell me your thoughts about the book in the comment bar below.
Monday, 11 July 2016
Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Published: May 30, 1991
My Rating: 5/5
Okay so firstly let's start with Barker's plot. Regeneration, the first in the Regeneration trilogy, is focused around Craiglockhart, a mental hospital for traumatised - or Shell shocked - soldiers who have been serving on the front line in World War One. Siegfried Sassoon, a famous poet and soldier, has just been sent to Craiglockhart for being 'shell shocked' when he actually isn't. Sassoon doesn't want the war to continue and writes in a declaration to the public, which is read out in parliament, that politicians and the general public have no idea how much the soldiers suffer out on the front lines. Sassoon even throws away his medal of honour in disgust. His friend, Robert Graves, sways the Board to send him to Craiglockhart instead of being court-martialled. Sassoon agrees and he goes to live at the hospital. Whilst there, he is under the care of psychiatrist William Rivers, and meets Owen Wilfred, at the time Wilfred was an aspiring poet and greatly looked up to Sassoon. Rivers also takes care of Billy Prior who is mute at the beginning of the novel. What I love about this book is how Rivers' opinions on the war change and how his views on the world are shaped by the patients he treats. He feels sympathetic for all of his patients, but he cannot truly understand the horrors which they have lived - I think at times this makes him frustrated because this makes it slightly harder for him to treat them - but he tries to use peaceful methods in order for the soldiers to overcome their shell shock. This story was heartbreaking in so many ways, Heather and I were talking about how tearful we were getting whilst reading it, but there are two points in this novel that really stand out for me. The first is on page 199, where Graves (Robert Graves) and Sassoon are talking about how Graves' companion was discovered to be a homosexual, Graves in fear assures Sassoon that he isn't a homosexual: 'I'd hate you to have any misconceptions. About me. I'd hate you to think I was homosexual even in thought.' Oh my goodness, at this point I was stunned. I had read some context about Sassoon and he was in fact homosexual, which makes what happens next even more heartbreaking. Robert tells Sassoon that his friend is being sent to Rivers to be 'cured' in which Sassoon replies: 'Sassoon smiled faintly. 'Yes, of course,' ' I was in tears at this point. The blatant pain that Barker has used in that one sentence completely blew me away. I felt so awful for Sassoon, I just wanted to reach into the book and give him a hug. Me and Heather had a good mope over this. The second is in chapter twenty-one of the novel where Dr. Yealland electrocutes his patient Callan, in an attempt to fix his mutism. When we compare Dr. Yealland and Rivers they act as foils, or dramatic foils, they are complete opposites. Rivers represents peace and tranquility within his profession, he cares profoundly about his patients. Whereas Dr. Yealland represents pain and suffering, in my opinion I don't believe he cares much for his patients at all: 'Callan wrenched his arm out of Yealland's grasp and ran to the door.' I just thought that this part of the novel was really distressing, I can't imagine how frightened Callan must have been. Rivers leaves feeling upset and rather disgusted about the whole ordeal - he is reflecting the reader's views at this point. I know that Lydia and Heather found this point of the book very disturbing as well. I think overall that this novel is a harsh reality, it doesn't romanticise the war at all, and it makes the reader have a great sense of pathos for the characters in the novel. We pity them, we feel terrible for them, but we know what's going to happen to them. Wilfred Owen for example died one week before the war ended, in a way this made the novel harder for me to read because every time he is mentioned I would feel extremely sympathetic towards his character, knowing what fate he has after he leaves Craiglockhart.
I think the characters in this novel were very real and engaging. I adore all of these characters very much, but I particularly have a soft spot for Billy Prior and Rivers. I love the dynamic between the pair of them, Rivers treats Prior like a son, and though Prior is horrible towards Sarah (Me and Heather were very much outraged at the church scene where he attempts to sexually assault her), I think his character development is wonderful and his snarky attitude made me laugh a lot. Rivers is another of my favourites because he has a very caring attitude and does his best to look after his patients, his own health beings to deteriorate because of this. Rivers is a father figure type protagonist, he expresses his admiration towards his patients and the pride he feels when they have achieved a certain milestone. In addition to this I loved Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon as well, and the way we see their relationship develop too.
Overall, this has been my favourite book which we have studied in my English Literature class so far. World War One and Two have always been particular interests of mine and I loved studying the topics in history. One of my favourite genres is also historical-fiction which is another major reason why I enjoyed this book so much. Barker did a fabulous job with Regeneration and I can't wait to get the next book in the trilogy, The Eye in the Door, which is mainly focused around Billy Prior and Rivers. If you are interested in World War One and historical-fiction I would definitely recommend this to read!
I've written some more of my novel/short story Beautifully Ugly. I really think this story is going well at the moment, I'm probably going to post every time I've added to the story, I think it will be a good way of getting my writing out on the internet.
"I'm an idiot," I said to Kim.
"Well, we all knew that hun," He giggled.
Kim is one of my best friends, I enjoy his sarcastic and overly dramatic remarks about theatre. The first day we met in year nine he said to me in history, 'hello gorgeous, I'm Kim, yes, I know its a girls name, but I think it was a sign from my parents that they knew there son was going to be gay.'
"What did you say to her?" He asked.
"That's the problem, I didn't say anything. If I grunted it would have had the same impact." I replied.
"I think you need to get over the fact that she's not for you, the girl has a boyfriend for Gods sake Aud!" Kim scoffed, "I don't like her, her aura is rimmed with darkness. Plus she's two faced and back stabby."
"You don't even know her!" I cried,
"Ha! And I suppose you do?"
I didn't reply.
As I was about to speak, Will sat down next to me.
"Hey Aud," He said.
"Hey, what's up?" I replied
"Nothing much." He paused "I must say you are looking very lovely today."
"Umm, thanks." I shrugged.
Fuck, this is why he's been complimenting me so much, he still thinks I'm straight.
I looked at Will, don't get me wrong he was handsome, and yes he is attractive, but I'm not attractive to him, at least not anymore. His sandy hair covered the whole of his right eye, which gave him the sort of boy band/Emo style. His serpent green eyes were still looking into mine, they stood out most of all against his tanned skin. His thin lips curved into a smirk as he watched me analysing his face. I smiled at him and turned away. He thought I was pretty, but in what way? He had known me all my life, but did he love me for my soul and core, or just the pretty face I seemed to have? I always wonder what beauty actually is? Do any of us know? Or are we just influenced my films and the media?
I turned to see Kim eyeing me, as he lowered his copy of Macbeth. His face said, Why haven't you told him yet?
Will turned his gaze away from me while Beth and her boyfriend Kyle say down at our lunch table, and as per usual I zoned out and reclined into my thoughts.
I thought back to the day I came out to my parents. It was two months today.
I remember sitting them both down in our living room and simply saying I'm a lesbian. There faces were both shocked at the same time, there eyes full of confused surprise. Mum's face smoothed in less than a minute, which she stood up and took my face in her hands and said 'I will always love you, whether you like men or women.' Then she hugged me tightly and kissed my hair. Dad on the other hand, he hadn't moved, and I couldn't read his face anymore. It left like hours had passed when he finally looked me in he eye, I didn't see anything, no hatred, no judgement, just nothing.
Thoughts hammered there way into my mind. Have I lost my dad? My friend? Sorry I can't give you proper grandchildren. Sorry I can't give you a son in law. I wanted to scream I haven't changed, I'm still the same Audrey you held in your arms.
All I did was reflect the same blank expression and vacant eyes, I mirrored his nothingness.
Hope you've enjoyed reading some more, let me know what you think in the comment bar below.
Monday, 4 July 2016
Sunday, 3 July 2016
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: January 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins